Saturday, April 26, 2014

Taxi service company advertises for IT jobs in backseat video

Last night, as I rode a cab home from a bar near Dupont Circle in Washington DC, I saw an information technology job ad on the small television video screen in the back seat of the cab, for Taxi Magic, link here

The need seemed to be for mobile app developers and those skilled in the intricacies of smart phone operating systems. 

This was indeed interesting. Usually, what I see in cabs now is news broadcasts.  You even see them when you get off the train at Penn Station in New York and ride to the hotel.

I’m not sure where the openings are, DC area maybe?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

NYC non-profit trains tech graduates to code iOS applications

Vox Media is reporting that a non-profit “Coalition for Queens”, called “Access Codes” (link , has trained recent high school or college graduates to code iOS applications for iPhones.  At least 15 people got jobs starting at 72000 per year or more.
The article says that three-fourths of the open tech positions in New York City (about 70000) go unfilled because schools have not provided graduates with the specific skills they need.
I never learned any mobile programming, as I came from the very staid mainframe world, and got wired differently. I've never seen the personal value of so much instantaneous connectivity.  But I can see the need, for example, when I need to get a cab and none show up.  

Friday, April 18, 2014

Federal, state government contract jobs still require extensive mainframe skills

I’m still seeing mainframe openings, mostly for government contracts.
From several recruiters, I’ve seen listings for a C OBOL mainframe for a contract position with the US Department of Agriculture in Kansas City (MO).  But the list of specific requirements is extensive: SQL Server, DB2, IDMS with ADSO and DC;  Eclipse, JBoss.  The last two items are unfamiliar.  ADSO is a “fourth generation” language for online transactions through a TP monitor (usually CICS); I took a class in that in northern VA in 1994 (somehow I remember that was near Purcellville, VA, because I recall the bike path and train station in spring time).  I was not aware that there exists and IDMS DC;  there is an IMS DC which was popular (especially with some airlines) in the early 1980s until CICS pretty much took over the mainframe TP market.  There was also a Datacomm DC from ADR (a company that used to be located at I-635 and US 175 in Dallas) which, along with DB, pretty much vanished in the 1990s.

There was another email for a job for NC Department of Transportation in Raleigh, with COBOL and very heavy CICS, perhaps a forgotten skill, with transaction server.   I see a lot of emails for jobs in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, maybe more than for any other area.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Our brains start sliding downhill at age 24, making it harder for older IT pros to pick up new languages

Ever wondered why it’s hard for older employees to pick up “new skills” quickly, especially for procedural programmers (COBOL, ALC, even original C) to become fluent in object oriented languages or even scripting?  On the other hand, teenagers who learn modern styles of programming first become whizzes at it.
The Post Wonkblog today noted a study by a Canadian University that maintains we start the downhill slope style at age 24 or so.  Yet the brain is thought not to be fully mature in terms of judgment of consequences until 25.  The Post link is here.   A similar link is at Advisor. You’re already using gravity when you’re old enough to rent a car in most states.  
Teenagers have the advantage of becoming super proficient in skills in a lot of things (whether playing piano, competing in speed chess or regular international tournament chess, coding java, or hitting baseballs) before their brains start pruning less used connections and specializing on “expertise”. 
People tend to develop “wisdom” and better judgment as they get older.  In business and an in creative endeavors, the “wisdom” and insights – ability to “connect the dots” and see the subtle significance of things – does improve with age. 

Mark Zuckerberg, approaching 30, still likes to do some (a lot) of his own coding, often at hangouts around Palo Alto.  
Picture: hard to seem but a male flicker (a woodpecker) likes to play on a chimney cover, early in the morning,  Some birds and wild mammals (like foxes) learn to recognize people who live in a suburban neighborhood and don't fly or run.  It's like having a pet without the responsibility.  In the eyes of animals, we're all equal.  Or at least money and wealth doesn't matter. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Job market becomes ever more important even for undergraduate students

A recent Washington Post article by Tara Bahramour about poverty among college students (link) and “food insecurity”, as well as debt and escalating tuition, and recent stories from Vox Media (link)  about how colleges play games with financial aid, all raise another question in my mind, improving student employment.

Back in my undergraduate days, a lot of engineering schools (like had co-op programs where students started full time employment much sooner.  Virginia Tech (VPI then) had a program with Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  I think there were some programs in California with Rand.

  It stands to reason that if you study technology and go to school in an area with a lot of technology jobs, that employment during school ought to be a possibility.  Some geographical areas, where the right companies are located, seem better than others.  These might include Boston, the Twin Cities (MSP MN), Austin TX, the Silicon Valley, and Research Triangle Park in North Carolina.

First picture: Oak Ridge, my trip, 2013; second, UNC, Wikipedia link

Friday, April 04, 2014

Hyperindividualism, and the biology of learning curves, may be exacerbating long-term unemployment

Annie Lowery has an article on the long term unemployed in the New York Times today, “Out of work, out of benefits, and running out of options”, link here

The news story concerns a man in Boston, 57, with Ivy League degrees and a long career in marketing, but not a full time job.  He’s making do with grunt work, including driving a cab, which might be more physically dangerous.
One reaction I had right off the bat was to the word “marketing”.  True, Internet businesses are driven by ads, but people don’t like to be contacted to buy things.  There was a time when sales was considered a profession, and people saw taking home sales calls as a courtesy.  That’s how my parents bought our piano and then our World Book Encyclopedias.  Now, nobody wants to take an unsolicited call or answer the door.  I still wonder when I see Comcast offering positions in new sales, and yet telecommunications companies don’t want to put broadband in harder-to-reach areas.

And I can remember a questionnaire as recently as 2005, for a life insurance agent position at New York Life, “would you buy anything from a salesman?”

Is this short term selfishness run amok?  Maybe partly.  Our desire for the appearance of self-sufficiency and efficiency is making some marketing desperate.  So guess why we get robocalls
In my case, I wonder why after 31 years as an “individual contributor”, I couldn’t get my old IT career going again after the “cardiac arrest” at the end of 2001?  I think part of it is that it is very difficult to learn new skills and develop agility as you get older.  Most people get really good at stuff in their teens and twenties, and then it gets harder.  Most chess grandmasters were prodigies as kids.  Think about it (especially the next time you lose a game to a 13 year old). 

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Employers: Don't try to hire perfect people

David Brooks has an interesting opinion page in the Tuesday New York Times, p. A21, about whom to hire, called “The Employer’s Creed”, link here
Perfect people apparently need not apply.  Brooks thinks employers should look for candidates who have been able to live out of the box (director Richard Kelly’s at least, if the job is around Richmond, VA), or off the grid, so to speak.  A dose of altruism or eusociality – like a willingness to give up a job for needs in extended family (like Derrick Evans, who returned to the Mississppi Gulf as related in his film “Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek”, Movies blog, March 30), or even to follow a religious calling – are in order.  Maybe this has something to do with service, when it changes who you are (my main blog, April 1).